I believe I’m still a rebel in many ways — always on my own path no matter what. You can’t break new ground if you stay in the box. It’s common for artists to do fashion layouts now — in the early days of my solo career, it was not. I pushed to be in these magazine because my Mom always had fashion magazines in the house. I remember seeing Beverly Johnson, Iman and later Naomi Campbell. I wanted to do that – there was no black artist at the time who was being featured like this. I’m proud to have quietly made it acceptable and coveted. This was my second feature of 3.
Jody Watley. Harper’s Bazaar November 1991. Photographed by Andrea Blanch
Harper’s Bazaar, November 1991. Interview:
Love Interest ” A lot of people think love songs don’t count,” says Jody Watley. “There’s a feeling that of you’re not singing about the homeless or the environment, you’re not singing about anything that matters.: But, the stunning dance diva explains, “The environment at home is what we bring into the world and we need to look at that before we can solve our other problems.” On her new album “Affairs of the Heart”, Watley is trying to weave her social concerns into the kind of infectious love songs that have filled two platinum albums and won her a 1987 Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Watley wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on ‘Heart’ and also tried her hand at executive producing for the first time. “Win or lose, this one is my baby. Since her early days in the 80’s trio Shalamar, Watley’s reputation has rested on a rebellious fashion sense and a taste for up-tempo,, sexy grooves, but this album marks a shift in emphasis to more sophisticated ballads. She claims the change was inspired by the charming ultranontraditional version of Cole Porter’s “After You, Who?” she contributed to last years Red, Hot and Blue AIDS charity project. “I think I hadn’t challenged myself enough before that”, she says. “Now I’m trying to grow up as an artist.”
This more refined sound is also reflected in a more glamorous look. Just as she sees her love songs as an opportunity to for social commentary, Watley considers style a reflection of something more lasting that the latest fashion. “I passed a high school the other day,” she recalls, “and the kids outside looked terrible, like they had no pride in themselves. I think it would be great if they had someone they looked up to who had a classic quality, because they’re the next generation, and if their minds are anything like the way they’re dressed, we’re in trouble.” With “Affairs of the Heart”. Jody Watley may become our first role model. – Alan Light